Stress Management & Relaxation Training

Overview

Stress management is a coordinated approach to dealing with the emotional and physical effects of our natural stress responses, which can arise with undesirable frequency and drain our reserves of health and well-being. You will likely benefit from learning some stress management techniques, including techniques for relaxation, which can significantly lower your susceptibility to stress’s harmful effects.

Stress Factors

Stress may arise from emotional reactions, physical circumstances or a combination of both these factors, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus. In some cases, emotional reactions can trigger physical stress, while physical reactions in turn can cause emotional stress. Although your sources of stress may not be the same as those experienced by others, certain common factors can escalate or ease stress levels. These include your diet, level of physical activity, attitude, emotional support network and access to relaxing activities and outlets.

Stress Management Techniques

With assistance, you can create a stress management program that addresses each of these common stress-producing factors, Medline Plus explains. For instance, you can review your current diet and change it to include increased amounts of healthier food choices such as vegetables and fruits. You can also make sure you eat moderate portions of food at consistent times each day. To increase your level of physical activity, start an exercise plan that provides you with aerobic activity at least three times a week; shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes of activity during each individual session. You can increase your support network by communicating more often with friends or family, or starting new friendships.

Relaxation Tips

You can also use several different techniques to increase your general feeling of relaxation, Medline Plus notes. Begin by giving yourself time to explore any hobbies or personal interests. If you tend to skimp on sleep, try to increase the amount of sleep you get each night. If possible, take breaks during the day if you feel your stress levels rise or if you start to feel rundown.

Relaxation Techniques

You can also investigate more formal relaxation techniques, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Examples of these techniques include slow and deep breathing; progressive tensing and relaxation of muscle groups throughout your body; meditation; and a technique called autogenic training, which combines visualization techniques with deeper awareness of your body’s physical sensations. In addition to reducing your body’s levels of stress-related hormones, these relaxation practices may help reduce your perceptions of physical pain or reduce the influence of physical addictions, UMMC reports.

Considerations

In some cases, you may not gain sufficient benefit from your stress management or relaxation efforts. If this holds true for you, Medline Plus recommends seeking the assistance of a psychologist, trained social worker or psychiatrist to develop a more effective management plan. You may also benefit from participation in a support group of others who share your concerns.

About this Author

M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. He is the former owner of a resume writing business, and currently creates health-related articles for the eHow and Answerbag websites.